My Favorite Books From 2015

In 2015, I reached my reading goal for the year of 52 books. Below are my favorite books of the year and why I chose them:

1. Boss Life: Surviving My Own Small Business

By: Paul Downs

Summary

Boss life is hands down the best business book I’ve ever read. It’s gritty, real and even stressful at times. The story ends well but is by no means a fantasy, as a matter of fact, most of it is a nightmare.

The author tells the story of how he started a woodworking shop after college while focusing on one year of the company’s operations, both the good and the bad.

Exploring everything from cash flow management, or lack thereof, to improving his sales process, the author clearly explains his thought process and is the first to admit when he doesn’t know. It’s this rare point of view, a real look inside of a business as opposed to the typically ‘do these 5 things and you’ll be rich’ type stories, that make this book a true gem.

Why I Liked This Book

It’s the first business book I’ve read that was honest. Not only did I learn an immense amount but it gave painful clear insight into how difficult it can be to run a business. Additionally, I really enjoyed the fact that he worked in such a ‘classic’ industry.

What I Learned

  • Cashflow is king. Without it, a business of even modest size cannot survive.
  • Doing something because it’s always been done that way is a losing strategy. To succeed, you must be willing to look inward, admit when you don’t know and admit when something you’re doing isn’t working.
  • Systems are essential to success in selling.
  • Picking the wrong business can prevent you from succeeding regardless how hard you work.

Who Should Read This Book

  • If you are looking for a no hold bar, insider look at what running a small business really entails.
  • Anyone who wants to see what it’s like to run an old school real business that is complicated and has many moving pieces.
  • Anyone interested in operations.

2. Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story

By Arnold Schwarzenegger

Summary

Following Arnold Schwarzenegger life from youth through to present, Arnold’s story is one of perseverance, hard work, optimism and ultimately great success. Upon completion of the book, I now view Arnold as one of the most accomplished men alive. Not only was he Mr. Universe multiple times but he made millions in real estate, had an extremely successful movie career (despite all odds) and was even the governor of California for two terms. Based on his background, any logical person would have thought this impossible. Even better yet, Arnold appears to have had fun the whole time bringing a youthful joy to every project he took on.

Why I Liked This Book

Arnold has lived the life of a super star both as a movie star and someone who has accomplished many extraordinary things. His book has inspired me greatly and I’ve since started thinking much bigger in terms of what I can accomplish.

What I Learned

  • Set your goals high regardless of what others think.
  • In business, a no is not a no. When you hear no, treat people as if they’ve said yes.
  • No matter how unlikely a goal seems, it is possible.
  • That there is a great deal of money to be made in real estate.
  • When lifting, it’s important to ‘confuse the muscles’.

Who Should Read This Book

  • Anyone who is looking for inspiration or curious to see how much a single man can accomplish so much against all odds.
  • If you’re a fan of Arnold in general, you will surely like his book as his personality shines through with every turn of the page.

3. Into Thin Air

By Jon Krakauer

Summary

Detailing the terrifying events of the 1996 Everest expedition tragedy, Jon Krakauer’s book tells a tale of adventure, suspense and sorrow.

Invited to join an expedition to the top of Everest, the author finds himself in the middle of one of the most devastating events in mountaineering history. While he successfully made it to the top and back alive, a number of others in his party were not as lucky.

Why I Liked This Book

This book was one of my first encounters with mountaineering, extreme adventure and what humans are capable of from a physical point of view. When I hear something is impossible or that very few others can do it, I immediately find myself interested. Because of this book, I’ll be climbing my first mountain, Ritacuba Blanco in Colombia, the first week of 2016.

What I Learned

  • There are exciting and terrifying things in the world.
  • Climbing mountains can be extremely dangerous (beyond even what you would initially expect).
  • That the thought of danger and climbing mountains is very appealing to me.
  • That the thought of being away from technology is extremely appealing to me.

Who Should Read This Book

  • Anyone interested in the outdoor and conquering Mother Nature.
  • A look into the amazing things that humans can achieve.
  • Anyone interested in doing something few alive get to do.

Ritacuba Blanco Summit — How I Will Be Starting 2016

Source: http://www.travelzenith.com/

4. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Summary

As the title would suggest, Nassim Taleb introduces readers to the idea of being antifragile. In its simplest terms, a noun is antifragile when it gains from complexity or randomness. A very public example of this is Donald Trump. The more press he gets, both good and bad, the more his name is mentioned and the people hear his name. The opposite of antifragile is fragile, which as you may have guessed, does not fair well against complexity or randomness. Taleb does an excellent job of introducing a somewhat contrarian and often overlooked idea that has had a large impact on how I view work, life and health.

Why I Liked This Book

The idea of being antifragile really hit home for me. Having had my fair share of career mishaps, I instantly understood the value of becoming antifragile. Now only did this idea push me to grow my online course business, which on its own could support my life month to month, but it’s pushed me to reassess how I view business ventures in general. If ever asked what my career goals are, the answer is to become antifragile (which ironically enough, I strongly believe is best achieved by being entrepreneurial and forgoing the traditional ‘career’ route.

What I Learned

  • Life is and always will be random.
  • While you can’t control how the dice land, you can control whether it will affect you or not. And even better still, you can position yourself to benefit from extreme and even negative outcomes.
  • By creating my own path, I am still susceptible to failure, however, it would be on my own terms.

Who Should Read This Book

  • Anyone who is tired of hoping for the best.
  • Anyone who realizes that loyalty in the corporate world is a thing of the past.
  • Anyone who realizes that everything can go perfectly yet you can still lose.

5. The Boron Letters

By Gary Halbert and Bond Halbert

Summary

In one of the more odd books I’ve read, Gary and Bond Halbert teach some of the most profoundly insightful marketing lessons I’ve learned. While the lessons are presented from a man supposedly writing them from jail, they are easy to understand, instantly relatable and built on what I believe to be the cornerstones of human psychology. Reading this book will provide you with both a number marketing tactics and most importantly, teach you how to think about marketing and business in general.

Why I Liked This Book

This book taught me the framework for which I think about marketing. While I’ve read numerous marketing books before The Boron Letters, none have given me such a clear, simple framework for which to analyze a marketing problem. Because of this book, I’ve not only gained the confidence to conduct marketing experiments (which I am a strong believer is the primary determinate of your success) but I’ve also begun to make significantly more money and help others do the same.

What I Learned

  • A business doesn’t have to be new or even necessarily unique, it has to give people what they want.
  • If someone loves cheeseburgers, sell them cheeseburgers — you don’t have to create something new.
  • When spreading your message, go where the right people already are.
  • Marketing is about more than marketing, its business. It’s the pitch, the message, who it goes to, how it gets there, etc.

Who Should Read This Book

  • If you’re interested in learning how to think about marketing holistically.
  • If you’re interested in gaining a better understanding of how businesses work and how to best spend your time as a marketer.
  • Anyone who wants to start their own business.
  • Anyone interested in making money.
  • Anyone who wants to work with me.